A Prospering Colony


John Muir once said “Most people are on the world, not in it”, on a peaceful May afternoon I was truly in the world. At the edge of Tomahawk Slough there is an oak savanna. Within this oak savanna lay a colony of white trout lily. These lovely spring ephemerals spread across the burnt logs and rising oaks to carpet the woodland floor in green and white.

A large colony of white trout lilies spreads through fallen charred logs of the forest floor. In early springtime, trout lilies are one of the first wildflowers to announce the rebirth of the woodlands.

The long slender stem of the trout lily supports a delicate white bell-shaped flower, often tinged with lavender. The flower typically hangs downward until the sun warms the air and the petals turn upward to display the brilliant yellow stamen and white pistil. The trout lily flower is guarded by two oblong green and maroon mottled leaves. Those speckled leaf markings resemble the markings of a brown or brook trout thus their name, trout lily.

These delicate plants grow slowly. Most trout lilies in a colony are juvenile single leafed plants that do not produce a flower. A mature plant will have two oblong leaves and produce the dazzling six-petaled flower. It can take from five to seven years for a flower to mature from a seed. In the woodlands trout lily typically reproduce from already existing croms (bulbs) and underground runners. Though croms speed the propagation of colonies at a much faster rate it still can take several years for a plant to mature.

Trout Lilies are essential to the health of the forest. Due to their ability to grow in lower soil temperatures, they can absorb springtime rains that contain nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus that would otherwise runoff into waterways. As spring turns to summer their leaves die off and release those beneficial nutrients back into earth so other growing plants can flourish.

Though only in the world for a short time in spring, the small and delicate trout lily has an important role in our environment. Their graceful beauty is fleeting so enjoy them while they here.

A white trout lily surrounded by its protecting speckled green leaves. The brilliant white petals rise up to reveal it showy pistil and stamen.

 

In front of an oak tree’s brown bark the yellow the white blossom of a trout lily split its green mottled leaves.

 

A solitary white trout lily rises above its green mottled leaves. Its yellow and white blossom appears to glow in front of an oak tree’s brown bark.

 

A rebirth of a colony of white trout lilies takes over the charred logs on the forest floor.Trout lilies are one of the first wildflowers to announce the arrival of spring in the woodlands.

 

A solitary white trout lily rises above its green mottled leaves. Its yellow and white blossom appears to glow in front of an oak tree’s brown bark.

 

With the appearance of a star in the sky, a solitary white trout lily flower rises from the the green leaves of the woodland floor.

 

In the loamy soil and leaf litter of the woodland floor, the white flower of a trout splits its green mottled leaves.

 

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